Miss Universe Great Britain visits acid attack victims in India

Miss Universe Great Britain highlights plight of India’s acid attack victims – where up to 1,000 women are left disfigured every year – praising charity for ‘transforming lives of survivors’

  • Noky Simbani, 25, from Derby, won Miss Universe Great Britain back in July
  • This week, the beauty pageant queen visited acid attack victims in India 
  • She was welcomed into Sheroes Hangout, a cafe run by the Chhanv Foundation

Miss Universe Great Britain has revealed how she’s spent time with women disfigured by acid attack victims in India, highlighting the country’s problem with violence using corrosive liquids. 

Noky Simbani, 25, from Derby, won the pageant in July, and says she’s using the title to highlight abuse around the world. 

This week, she was in India travelling through Delhi and Agra, visiting the Taj Mahal and meeting girls who work at Sheroes Hangout cafe, set up by a charity who help acid attack victims.

Miss Universe Great Britain Noky Simbani, 25, (right) poses with acid attack survivor Ritu, 24, outside Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra, India. The cafe helps survivors to build their confidence and give them focus in life when so many employers and companies turn them away

Noky, from Derby, shared with her social media followers this week that she was in India (pictured at the Taj Mahal, in Agra)

The problem of acid attacks is a rising problem in India.

Despite a law making acid violence a separate offence with a minimum penalty of 10 years in jail, and a Supreme Court ruling on the regulation and sale of dangerous chemicals, acids are still bought and sold without the required licences. 

Experts are calling on India to follow neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh, where existing laws on the sale of acid were strengthened.

Indeed, Bangladesh, where there were 492 attacks in 2002, had just 75 attacks last year – thanks to the introduction of the death penalty as punishment for the crime.

In Pakistan, stronger legislation has meant three times as many women now report attacks. 

In a post on the @missuniversegreatbritain Instagram page she used her story to document her visit. 

The women who work in the cafe, Sheroes Hangout, in the tourist town of Agra, were all attacked with acid by their ex-husbands or members of their family or admirers. 

Devastatingly, acid attacks are at an all-time high in India with 250–300 attacks reported every year, while the real number could exceed 1,000, according to Acid Survivors’ Trust International.

Sheroes Hangout is a cafe run by survivors of acid attacks set up by the Chhanv Foundation. 

The cafe aims to increase awareness of acid attacks and empower survivors. 

On her personal Instagram page @nokysimbani, posted extra photos on her stories showing the devastating stories of individual victims, writing: ‘The story of one of the incredibly brave survivors supported by @stopacidattacks @sheroes_hangout’.

Noky arrives outside Sheroes Hangout cafe to a grand welcome with acid attack survivor Geeta presenting her with a flower garland and a welcome bindi mark

Noky is walked to the entrance of Sheroes Hangout cafe in Agra, accompanied by survivors or acid attacks

An acid attack survivor presents Noky with a flower garland inside the cafe supported by a charity to help acid attack survivors integrate back into society

Here Noky poses inside Sheroes Hangout cafe. Alongside her Miss Great Britain duties, Noky works full-time as a commercial banker after gaining a master’s degree in chemical engineering

In another she’s seen dancing with members of the charity after being presented with a welcomed garland of orange flowers. 

Alongside her Miss Great Britain duties, Noky works full-time as a commercial banker after gaining a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

True to the values of all Miss Universe competitors, Noky highlights the stories of individuals in need. Women across India are in danger of being victims of acid attack, which is at its highest numbers ever

Speaking on the moment she was crowned Miss Universe GB, back in July, which qualified her as the country’s Miss Universe representative, she said: ‘I can’t even comprehend it. I’m still in shock. I literally fell to the floor. My knees buckled because I was in so much shock.

‘It’s the biggest prize you can win in pageantry in the UK. A year ago I would never have told you I could do that, it felt beyond my wildest dreams. 

In pageants this day and age, it’s not just about being the prettiest face or walking well, you really have to have the whole package, and obviously beauty is in the eye of the beholder so how you look isn’t really a factor, it’s more what you can bring as the total package.

While in Agra, the model and engineer made the most of being so close to the famous Taj Mahal, and took plenty of images of herself walking down the majestic lane towards the stunning building

Like all visitors to the Taj Mahal, Noky covered her feet in temporary bags to ensure the marble floors are not ruined by millions of dirty feet, trampling across it every year. Here she is pictured standing on the parameters of the Taj Mahal

Noky stands with her guide in India and thanks him for showing her the sights during her visit

Noky first got into pageants when she visited the Clothes Show Live, a fashion exhibition with her mum. The then 15-year-old was approached by a woman who became her first pageant director.’ She continued: ‘At the time, I had no idea about pageants. I didn’t know anything about them, but I loved watching modelling shows, and I was like, ‘oh, that sounds great, I’ll give it a go’.

‘I realised that it wasn’t just about modelling, but it’s so much more. It’s about charity work, building your personal brand and just becoming a better version of yourself.

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